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Book Review: The Edge of Summer

By Melissa Amster

Several years ago, I first became captivated by the comforting writing style of Viola Shipman. Since then, I have read all her books and am always excited for a new one to be published. So when I received an advanced copy of The Edge of Summer, I added it to my TBR right away, knowing it would be another dose of TLC. I was not wrong.

Devastated by the sudden death of her mother—a quiet, loving and intensely private Southern seamstress called Miss Mabel, who overflowed with pearls of Ozarks wisdom but never spoke of her own family—Sutton Douglas makes the impulsive decision to pack up and head north to the Michigan resort town where she believes she’ll find answers to the lifelong questions she’s had about not only her mother’s past but also her own place in the world.

Recalling Miss Mabel’s sewing notions that were her childhood toys, Sutton buys a collection of buttons at an estate sale from Bonnie Lyons, the imposing matriarch of the lakeside community. Propelled by a handful of trinkets left behind by her mother and glimpses into the history of the magical lakeshore town, Sutton becomes tantalized by the possibility that Bonnie is the grandmother she never knew. But is she? 

As Sutton cautiously befriends Bonnie and is taken into her confidence, she begins to uncover the secrets about her family that Miss Mabel so carefully hid, and about the role that Sutton herself unwittingly played in it all. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

I was at a gathering recently and my eyes were drawn to a woman's shirt that had all these pretty flower-shaped buttons sewn onto it. I never would have given the shirt much thought if not for this delightful story. I also recently bought a small jar of multi-colored buttons of various sizes to use in my Bookstagram photo. I then gave the jar to my daughter so she could do whatever she wants with the buttons. The Edge of Summer has me appreciating buttons in a whole new way!

This was a sweet story overall. There was a strong air of nostalgia throughout the story, especially with all the flashback scenes. It was also very idyllic, making me long for the summers of my childhood where I spent all day at the pool or going to lots of barbecues. The mystery factor was interesting and kept me wondering. I thought I was right about something, but then wasn't sure and kept going back and forth. There were also some answers that I wasn't expecting at all. I enjoyed the romantic aspect, as well. The descriptions and details brought the story to life so much that I felt like I was right there in Michigan with Sutton. 

My main concern was that it felt too introspective. Sutton asked herself a lot of questions. Tug also would voice a lot of random thoughts about life in general. I also noticed that Sutton got bent out of shape too easily. I appreciated her standing up for herself and for others, but sometimes she could be a bit too extra.

The Edge of Summer was engaging and kept me turning the pages. It publishes this week and I definitely recommend enjoying a summer day (or night) with it, while sipping on a tall, cold glass of lemonade. 

Movie casting suggestions:
Sutton: Melissa Rauch (I think Viola may have wanted me to go with Kristen Bell, based on a comment earlier in the book, but I decided to find someone similar looking instead.)
Tug: Ryan Hansen
Bonnie: Blythe Danner (Viola also made a Helen Mirren mention, which I was actually considering before that happened, but then decided to go a different route.)
Lauralei: Edie McClurg

Thanks to Graydon House for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Viola Shipman:

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